The FBI’s Brett Kavanaugh Probe Always Smelled Like a Sham

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Anyone who sat through the extended hearings into the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court realized that the whole business was completely off at its center. Christine Blasey Ford was so believable that the blasts of outrage from the likes of Lindsey Graham, and from the nominee himself, smacked of ludicrous overkill, particularly since they had the votes to confirm him unless they found his fingerprints on the Lindbergh baby. When Kavanaugh angrily asked Senator Amy Klobuchar if she’d ever been blackout drunk—even if he didn’t know about her father’s alcoholism—he made Clarence Thomas’ evocation of a “high-tech lynching” sound like calm, reasoned parliamentary rhetoric. He sounded guilty as hell, and even some of the Republicans, especially then-Senator Jeff Flake, suspected the same.

And when the Senate Judiciary Committee ordered up an FBI investigation at the last minute, it seemed like a transparent attempt to run out the clock and, if the New York Times is correct, it was even more of a bag job than it appeared.

In a letter dated June 30 to two Democratic senators, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Chris Coons of Delaware, an F.B.I. assistant director, Jill C. Tyson, said that the most “relevant” of the 4,500 tips the agency received during an investigation into Mr. Kavanaugh’s past were referred to White House lawyers in the Trump administration, whose handling of them remains unclear. The letter left uncertain whether the F.B.I. itself followed up on the most compelling leads. The agency was conducting a background check rather than a criminal investigation, meaning that “the authorities, policies, and procedures used to investigate criminal matters did not apply,” the letter said.

The Democrats on the committee haven’t quite gotten over the surreality of the whole thing.

In an interview, Mr. Whitehouse said the F.B.I.’s response showed that the F.B.I.’s handling of the accusations into misconduct by Mr. Kavanaugh was a sham. Ms. Tyson’s letter, Mr. Whitehouse said, suggested that the F.B.I. ran a “fake tip line that never got properly reviewed, that was presumably not even conducted in good faith.” Mr. Whitehouse and six of his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee replied to the F.B.I.’s letter on Wednesday with demands for additional details on the agreement with the White House that governed the inquiry. They also pressed for more information on how incoming tips were handled. “Your letter confirms that the F.B.I.’s tip line was a departure from past practice and that the F.B.I. was politically constrained by the Trump White House,” the senators wrote.

It’s nice to have your reportorial instincts validated, even ex post facto. But it does make you wonder about what other secrets the new management at DOJ and the FBI will find. And about lying to Congress, now that I think about it.

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#FBIs #Brett #Kavanaugh #Probe #Smelled #Sham

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